Henry James: “The Altar of the Dead”

(1116 words)
  • Mhairi Catriona Pooler (University of Aberdeen)

“The Altar of the Dead” is a tale about a man who lives more with what he calls “his Dead” than he does with the living. Published in the collection Terminations in 1895, the tale anticipates the themes of obsession, the double and self-haunting in Henry James’s two later masterpieces “The Beast in the Jungle” (1903) and “The Jolly Corner” (1908). While “The Altar of the Dead” can be read as one of James’s multitude of “quasi-supernatural” tales in which an unseen reality has precedence over the material world, as Clifton Fadiman has noted “the tale is crowded, not with terror, but with love” (259).

Having lost his fiancé, Mary Antrim, before they could be wed, George Stransom faithfully r…

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Pooler, Mhairi Catriona. "“The Altar of the Dead”". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 February 2009
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=1615, accessed 27 September 2016.]